d&b and Paradise Church: No Strangers in Paradise

18 January 2012

With regard to neighbours Adelaide is five hundred and sixty five miles from the next major city Melbourne. Outside Australia it’s over eight thousand miles to LA, even NZ is four hours away by aeroplane. Yet here in Adelaide, founded in the early eighties, is Paradise, the second largest church on the continent, and by universal approbation, one of the most influential in the modern Evangelical movement. “In many ways they set the fashion for embracing contemporary music into the modern evangelical Christian context. That’s one of the reasons they didn’t need to hurry when they looked at bringing their PA system into the twenty-first century; unlike many other churches from that era, sound reinforcement had been on their minds since inception,” said David Jacques.

Jacques works for National Audio Systems (NAS) in Melbourne, the company that supplied and installed Paradise’s latest PA system, but make no mistake it was the church that defined the parameters. “We knew exactly what we wanted,” as said by the head of their technical department Craig Britcher, is not such an uncommon refrain; but there’s more. “My brief to Jacques was predicated on the shortcomings of the previous system. Coverage left to right and front to back was very uneven. None of this is especially unusual for a dated system, even the fact that there was no front fill to the area where our pastors sit. What’s important is that they really need to feel what everyone else in the room is experiencing to modulate their own presentation. So coverage across the full frequency range that was immersive for the pastors was a key factor, plus defined SPL targets across the room set the parameters for Jacques.”

“The room is mildly reverberant,” commented Britcher, but when Jacques came to design the install system based on a d&b audiotechnik Q-Series system, some unique factors intervened. “It’s actually a strange room, the large walls down the sides of this fan shaped auditorium are not treated so you do need to keep audio energy off them; Q-Series is, with its narrower than a regular line array horizontal dispersion, ideal for addressing that problem. But the real challenge is more about the very large upper balcony, it seats almost half the congregation; at the back if you stand up you can almost touch the ceiling. Keeping it intelligible up there is tricky; we spent a lot of time getting the delays up there just right.” In the end Jacques opted for some d&b T-Series loudspeakers, used individually, rigged horizontally, they slotted the requisite sound energy and intelligibility directly onto the listeners. “The services tend to be full on,” said Britcher, “for our regular Sunday service I might aim for 95 dBA; for a youth service it’s not unknown to hit 105 dBA peaks. We have a full lighting and video system as well so this is very much contemporary worship. It’s a busy church and we’re very production driven.

“For the install NAS did a great job,” said Britcher. “We provided all the hanging points and rigging as per plan, they came in ran the cables, almost invisibly, and hung the system. We did find we needed to make one adjustment to the T-Series delays on the balcony, but trimming and tuning was all achieved quickly, easily and effectively. Honestly I can say I love d&b, their products stood out from others I had brought into the church for a demo. Because this project was slow in its genesis, maybe three years from when it was first discussed, I got to know Dave quite well; when it came to a decision it was easy for me to sit down with Jacques and his boss Shane Bailey and check through their calculations of the install system design. For the church our relationship with NAS is very important, we didn’t want a love you and leave you kind of deal. I have to say their support has been really good; I never tire of telling Shane Bailey what a great job his company does. That reflects through their customer network. When we have a big event here, say a special youth service that requires a little more lift in the SUBs then I augment my Q-SUBs with B2s from local company Andy Jay Sound here in Adelaide. They have really good equipment; considering its rental stock it’s kept in as good a condition as our installed system. They also have a big stock of Q-Series, maybe sixty boxes, so for something special like a big Easter festival I can pull in extra for that; they have the same d&b D12 amps we use, it’s that easy. Everyone loves the system.”